One of Bali’s biggest open landfill sites is burning. A fire broke out around 11 a.m. on Thursday 12th October.
Over the past 24 hours, firefighters and teams from the National Disaster Agency have been working around the clock to bring the blaze under control.
The Suwung TPA sits in South Denpasar, just 6.5km west of the popular family vacation resort at Sanur Beach, 7.5 km from Kuta Beach, and 11km from I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport.
Residents and tourists around Bali have taken to social media in the last 24 hours to show video footage of the plumes of smoke billowing from the landfill site.
The wind has continued to blow in a westerly and northwesterly direction, blowing the smog over Denpasar, Kuta, Seminyak, and as far as Canggu. Areas like Sanur and Ubud have so far been spared from the impacts of the smoke due to the wind direction.
An operation remains underway to tackle the blaze. Excavators and loaders have been deployed to cut fire break lines through the mountain of waste.
Firetruck after firetruck loaded with water has been hosing the flames. Over the next few hours, helicopters will be deployed to water bomb the site from above.
The Head of the National Disaster Agency for Bali, Made Rentin, told reporters on Friday “update on the condition of the Suwung TPA fire, until the early morning, efforts to extinguish it are still being carried out. The team is on standby at the most to monitor developments in the conditions.”
Since the westerly winds continue to blow, the flames continue to spread towards residential areas that sit right on the border of the landfill site.
Firefighters have been stationed close to the settlements as a precautionary measure.
The Suwung TPA site covers around 32 hectares of land. The Head of the Bali Provincial Forestry and Environmental Agency, I Made Teja, told reporters that 20-30% of the site has been impacted by the fire.
Concerns are growing for the communities living close to the landfill site as air quality remains at dangerous levels.
Since the landfill is so close to Bali Airport, officials are in close communication with the disaster agency monitoring the impact of the smoke on air traffic control.
The General Manager of Bali Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, told a reporter “In response to the burning incident at the Suwung landfill we can say that in accordance with the coordination with Air Navigation colleagues, visual aberrations are not hampered and are clear.”
Rentin also added, “The fire is quite large and the smoke is rising high, but so far it is still under control and has not disturbed public activities, especially at Ngurah Rai International Airport.”
There are other fires, big and small, happening all around the island right now. As the dry season progresses and farmers burn their rice fields, some communities burn trash, and in dry landscapes wildfires rage on, as well as a temple fire in Sibang Kaja in Abiansemal close to Ubud.
The Regent of Badung, I Nyoman Giri Prasta, issued statements following the temple fire in Sibang Kaja. The temple’s most important structures have been destroyed and over IDR 3 billion of damage has been caused.
Regent Prasta explained, “For the fire, the temporary suspicion is that the cause of the fire was a fire that came from burning rubbish. So the center of the fire was to the east of the temple.”
In Klungkung Regency firefighters have been battling a fire at an artificial woodwork workshop. The warehouse owner is thought to have incurred IDR 700 million in damages.
The fire is believed to have been sparked by an electrical short circuit. The flames were under control by mid-morning on Friday.
Another video circulating online on Friday afternoon shows an uncontrolled fire in a rice paddy in a residential part of Denpasar. The fire is believed to have started as a burning trash pile that then caught on over the field.
Up in the hills surrounding Mount Agung and Mount Batur wildfires continue to spread. Data collected by the National Disaster Management Agencies in Bali shows that in the last three weeks, 730 hectares of land in Karangasem Regency have been scorched by wildfires.
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